« PreviousContinue »
A DIGEST OF THE REPORTS.
OPINION OF JUDGE OGDEN EDWARDS UPON THE QUESTION, WHETHER HAVING AN OPINION, OR EVEN EXPRESSING IT, THAT A PERSON IS GUILTY, LEGALLY DISQUALIFIES FROM SERVING AS A JUROR.
WHETHER the expression of an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of a prisoner, is a cause for principal challenge, is a question which of late has attracted much of the public attention and produced some diversity of opinion. Mr. Justice Woodworth, in delivering his opinion upon this question in the case of the People v. Jacob Barker and others, declared that "all the elementary writers, with the exception of Chitty, lay down the proposition broadly, that if a juror has declared his opinion beforehand, it is a good cause of challenge."
There are those, on the other hand, who deny that the position rests upon any tenable authority. Which is right and which is wrong, must necessarily be decided by the authorities themselves. Before I proceed to state them, I will premise that there are two kinds of challenges to jurors, the one is called principal and the other for favor.
PRINCIPAL challenges are for causes which the law presumes indicate bias, or for causes which prove evident favor or enmity in the juror. Principal challenges must always be decided by the court. Challenges for favor must be decided by triers appointed by the court, and any cause which in the exercise of a sound discretion, may induce them to suppose that a juror will not be impartial, or as it is expressed in the books, indifferent between the parties, will justify them in setting him aside. Trials per pais, 122, 8.
That jurors must be perfectly impartial, entirely indifferent, is a position which no lawyer ever controverted. The question is, whether the expression of an opinion, as to the merits of a case even by a person who disclaims all prejudice against a party, is in judgment of law in all cases a cause for disqualification from serving as a juror? If, so, it is cause for principal challenge. If not, it is not a cause for